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California announces plans to create its own insulin to reduce costs

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced the state’s plans to tackle the high cost of insulin

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom answers questions at a news conference.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom answers questions at a news conference in Los Angeles, on June 9, 2022. The governor announced a plan to create insulin in the state to lower costs.

Richard Vogel, Associated Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that the state is pushing to create its own insulin to make the life-saving drug more accessible to those with diabetes.

The governor allotted $100 million as funding for the project, with $50 million going towards development. The rest will be used to set up a production facility in the state — creating jobs and a better supply chain for the medication, according to The Washington Post.

“On my first day in office, I signed an executive order to put California on the path to creating our own prescription drugs, and now it’s happening. California is going to make its own insulin,” Newsom said in a video briefing posted to Twitter.

“Nothing, nothing epitomizes market failures more than the cost of insulin. Many Americans experience out-of-pocket costs anywhere from $300 to $500 per month for this life-saving drug. California is now taking matters into our own hands.”

Insulin is administered to help the body process blood sugar, but rising costs — sometimes as high as $1,000 a month — have led people to ration and sometimes skip using the drug altogether, according to a report by Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy group.

“Almost every insulin-dependent person Human Rights Watch interviewed said they had rationed analog insulin because of out-of-pocket costs, taking it in ways not recommended by their physician in order to stretch their supply,” the report noted.

The report also said that there are three drug companies that “dominate the global market” for the medication — Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi.

Over 30 million Americans live with diabetes, including 1.6 million adults over 20 years old with Type 1 diabetes who rely on insulin.

California isn’t the only state attempting to combat the high cost of insulin. Per CBS News, Colorado started capping copayments for insulin for those with private insurance in 2019.

In April, the U.S. House passed the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which would limit the cost of insulin for Americans with health insurance, as Lois M. Collins reported for the Deseret News. The bill has not yet been voted on by the Senate.